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Reflections in Honor of Mark Saunders

June 11, 2019

The University Press of Colorado is honored to participate in AUPresses memorial blog tour honoring Mark Saunders.

The University Press of Colorado is honored to participate in this week’s AUPresses memorial blog tour. Below you will find contributions from our staff that reflect on the spirit, intelligence, generosity, curiosity, and passion of our colleagues at our press and in the greater university press community—qualities that the late Mark Saunders embodied.

My friends are frequently perplexed when I tell them what I do for a living. They understand the publishing part, and, given that a high percentage of them are tech geeks, they almost universally find the idea of something as quaint as making books pretty cool. What they don’t understand is my working for a nonprofit entity and giving the past three decades of my life to producing scholarship for specialized audiences. I could talk to them about my strong sense of mission, or how much I value scholarship and empirical understanding. But ultimately that’s only a fraction of the picture. What has truly kept me in university press publishing for all these years is the people, people like Mark Saunders, who I had the pleasure of working with at Columbia University Press early in my career. Mark always had time for a conversation about our trade, he was willing to lend an ear and, often, a helping hand. He gave not only to the University of Virginia Press, but to the entire network of university presses who benefitted from his wisdom. Mark exemplified what is best about my chosen path, as do each and every one of you who work in our community and who find yourself reading this blog post. I also have to give a special shout out to my staff, both current and former. They make going to “work” each day a joy, a privileged way to spend what time I have on this earth, not just a job or a career that I have to endure until my work life is behind me. Thank you, all of you, both those I work with closely and those I work with at more of a remove. You make each day worthwhile.
—Darrin Pratt, Director


Eleven years ago, I attended my first AUP (then AAUP of course!)—the 2008 conference in Montreal. I was three months into being hired, and attended on my own—without any fellow UPC colleagues to sit with at lunch, chat with between sessions, or get drinks or dinner with after the organized events had concluded. I was new to the job, to university presses in general, and was frankly intimidated on more than a few levels. It was the best experience I could have asked for to start a career in university press publishing. A conversation started in a session over Converse Chuck Taylors led to what felt like a temporary adoption by the large SUNY contingent that was there, and I suddenly no longer felt I was floating on my own. Additional conversations and connections followed, and before I knew it, I was a part of this community. Since then those connections and that feeling have only grown, personally and professionally. I feel extremely lucky to be a part of this extended family. Guidance, support, humor, fun, creativity, and knowledge are shared freely. People genuinely care about each other and what we do. I respect and enjoy both the people I work with every day and the work we do together. Specifically, to Darrin, Laura, Dan (P), Charlotte, Rachael, Dan (M), Kourtney, Jessica, Kelly, and Michael, I can only say thank you for making UPC a home for the past eleven years. I hope there as at least as many more to come.
—Beth Svinarich, Sales and Marketing Manager


I’ve been in university presses for thirteen years now, a fact that sometimes still surprises me. I often find myself hovering over that “newcomer” button when registering for the annual meeting and that feeling has only intensified as I’ve transitioned from working in marketing to a new (and delightful) career in acquisitions. Most of my very best friends, those who have seen me through all my major personal and professional life moments and who have celebrated promotions, a marriage, a kid, and a job change, come from this community. Some were by happenstance (those I met through random AUP committees), some by design (wonderful people I helped interview and thought “yes, I want to work with this smart and good person” or vice versa), and some were through professional mentorship out in the publishing world. Here I think of those I was lucky enough to meet in the B&N bullpen, at the train platform while waiting for a taxi to B&T, in the NYRB waiting room, or in a terribly carpeted exhibit hall. No matter the how or when or why, these relationships have grounded me in this profession and, when the going is good, are still happy to raise a glass and, when the going is tough, are always there with advice and encouragement and a steady hand.

And when you’re really lucky, like I have been, you find yourself surrounded by colleagues who make every day fun. I’m beyond grateful for the staff here at UPC and to Darrin, Charlotte, Beth, Laura, Kourtney, and the best Dans I know, I thank you for welcoming me into this great and good team.
—Rachael Levay, Acquisitions Editor

It would be hard to overstate how grateful I am for the past ten years. I have spent my entire career in the university press world, so I don’t have much basis for comparison, but I think it’s accurate to say that this field is a very rare one. The intellectual stimulus and participation in the production of something truly worthwhile often seem too good to be true. It is a privilege I really never expected to get to work with such profoundly good people, with so much talent and competence and so little egotism, who believe so wholeheartedly in their mission and who do difficult work so well. The University Press of Colorado in particular often seems to me an impossible place. What I have seen my colleagues accomplish, with grace and good humor and all the constraints on time and funds that come with scholarly publishing, is humbling and miraculous. I could not imagine a better team and I feel honored every day to get to work with them.
—Charlotte Steinhardt, Acquisitions Editor


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